Stash the heavy leather tote and lighten up your load with a brand-new bag. This spring, you don't have to worry about cramming all your worldly possessions into a tiny purse. Bigger is better this season in airy bags that look like they're bound for the beach. Here are the latest trends to look for now:
— The breezy straw bag. From round rattan bags to bamboo totes to raffia crossbody bags, the straw handbags are making their way from picnics and parks to city streets. Designers are making hay with innovative designs of all sizes, dressed up with leather handles and metal hardware.
— The oversized shopper. Those big shopping bags we all know and love have morphed into oversized carry-alls now spotted on the fashion runways. In shiny metallics or colorful canvas, you can pack it all in — whether you're schlepping across town or out to the pool. These giant bags also make great travel companions.
— The clear plastic purse. See-through handbags used to be just for security checkpoints, but it was only a matter of time before the functional became fashionable. Now the transparent plastics are going upscale — even turning up in Chanel's iconic chain-strap bags.
— The belt bag. This trendsetting accessory has also long outgrown its utilitarian "fanny pack" days and is now a chic hands-free accent that shows up for spring in fresh pastel sherbet colors. The newest way to wear a "belt" bag is actually like a necklace. Necklace bag, anyone?
— The double-sided handbag. If you're a neat freak, this may be the bag for you. Two-sided satchels are a working woman's dream. In tan, the new power color, these purses make getting organized easy. Look for handbags with exterior pockets for even more storage possibilities.
— The new evening bag. If you're a party girl and want to carry a more festive approach to the traditional clutch, then shift shapes with spherical ball purses, squishy "dumpling" pouches or geometric boxes with top handles. In tapestry brocades, floral prints or dangling fringe and feathers, have fun with a new party purse and get a little carried away.
— The mini bag. If you'd rather not carry a handbag at all, then a mini purse may be all you need for a cellphone and a few essentials. There are lots of options now, from small crossbody envelope bags to small structured briefcases. "Pocketbook" takes on a whole new meaning.
— The mixed-media bag. There's nothing boring about handbags this year. Even the tiniest of bags can have loads of personality and artistic flair. From macrame netting to abstract designs in neons and pastels, one pop of a powerful purse can spring you into a whole new season.
To find out more about Sharon Mosley and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.